September 24th marked the conclusion of the 2017 Professional Photographers of Oklahoma’s fall convention. Part of the excitement of fall convention is the photographic competition. Professional photographers from all across Oklahoma gather our favorite and most prized work that we must keep hidden away from the internet.
State level competition is essentially round two of a nearly year and a half cycle on the road to becoming better photographers than we were before. Next comes regional and national levels in the coming year. We take our craft very seriously. By competing we become better photographers, and this continued improvement translates into client work. High quality portraiture is achieved by taking a very removed look at the image to ensure we capture each subject with emotion; that the image tells a story. Our goal is for each photo we take to become treasured heirlooms for our clients.
This year, at state level, I entered 6 images. Three of these images surpassed my wildest dreams! Two images are of the city I love, Tulsa. Or rather, things in Tulsa I love. The other image is of a teenage dancer. These images will be jealously guarded as they move on to regionals. One other image will be re-photographed to improve the impact and will join these three as they move on to regionals.
One of my favorite features in Tulsa took top honors in the General Unclassified category. I have had this image in my head for nearly 10 years. This spring I took an early morning walk with 70 pounds of camera gear to capture the view just as I envisioned before it is removed.
The second I took as a traveling exhibit toured the country nearly 5 years ago. A flying fortress if you will. Upon taking it I thought “This is an okay image.”. With my continued education in the magic of photoshop, I had an idea… what if I could entirely change the image? I embarked on one of my most difficult photoshop tasks to date… Changing the time of day that I took the photo. From a 10AM harsh summer sun to a late evening warm fall sunset. To my delight this image exceeded any dream I have entertained… bringing home a Distinguished ribbon (like second place).
The third image that received honors is of a dancer in a vintage dress, sitting alone. When I took to editing this bright image, I felt a more moody feeling was called for. More of a Charles Dickens feeling seemed appropriate. I set off to work, taking a beautiful teenage girl and transforming her into a reflection of an iconic commentary on keeping up appearances.
I am truly humbled that my images performed as well as they did. My competitors were among some of the best photographers I know. From here, I will take the judges’ criticism to heart and work on improving my images before they move forward again. I will also be sending them to several of my state peers for their critical eye.
I cannot wait to see how the chips fall at the regional level!
My favorite part of the evening was when my friends received their awards. My mentor Dawn Muncy had an image win People’s Choice. This is an award that the PPOK membership votes on and quite an honor! My friend Judy entered her first state level competition and won high print case! Some of the best of the best photographers I know have won this honor and it was a pleasure to see her join these ranks!
In photographic competition it really parallels running a marathon. Someone will always be first, and I do not ever expect that to be me. My goal is simply to continue to be better than I was yesterday.